“Over there in the Pacific”

“Over there in the Pacific” – (PIP #30)

By Louise Peloquin

After the World War II reports on soldier Raymond Marcouillier (1) and seaman first class Aimé Martin (2), here is one on seaman first class Paul Blanchette.

After the war, Paul Blanchette worked as civil agent in the City of Lowell postal services, was named Franco-American of the year by the Franco-American Day Committee in 1977 and became president of the FADC in 1982.

A well-known Lowellian figure and leader, he tirelessly promoted Franco-American history, culture and identity all over New England and abroad.

L’Etoile – March 10, 1944

Impressions of seaman Blanchette serving in the Pacific Zone 

     When one is stationed on a faraway island in the Pacific, as is the case for seaman first class Paul Blanchette, one sees phenomenal and diverse spectacles. This young seaman, who left the United States last August as member of the United States Marine Corps (Seabees) (3), relates very interesting incidents in numerous letters addressed to his parents and friends in the city. He tells them about having seen a volcano on the verge of erupting and having felt the aftershocks of eight earthquakes in a single day, last December 24th. He also witnessed the visit of actor Randolph Scott. (4) 

     Seaman Blanchette says he is in perfect health despite the arduous work of his unit. 

     “Over there in the Pacific, one must get up at 4:45 in the morning and rush to do as much work as possible before the sun becomes unbearable. Most of the time, Mass is said in the afternoon and the numerous Catholic soldiers make every effort to attend. Recreations include movies and radio programs. However, above all, work serves to chase homesickness away. Every day, every military member receives a tablet of atabrine (5) to prevent malaria, two concentrated vitamin pills and a good supply of cigarettes and food.

     Despite the torrid heat, rising to an average of 130 degrees” seaman Blanchette adds, “the sudden but infrequent rains are very cold and unhealthy. The vegetation of this tranquil jungle is absolutely beautiful but the leisure to contemplate it is rather rare.”

     Seaman Blanchette, whose letters are saturated with the sound optimism of a courageous 21-year-old, is the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Tancrède Blanchette of Mount Washington Street. Graduate of Saint Joseph College and of Lowell High School, he enrolled on January 26, 1943 after having worked for a time in the defence industry. Recently, his young brother Raymond also joined the Navy. (6) 


  1. PIP #28  – “In pencil” posted on April 23. https://richardhowe.com/2024/04/23/in-pencil/
  2. PIP #29 – “A Rescue at Sea” posted on April 30.
  3. The Seabees were formally established on March 5, 1942 to meet the Navy’s growing need to build bases, camps and other structures as part of the war effort. Seabees earned 33 Silver Stars and 5 Navy Crosses during World War II. 272 enlisted men and 18 officers were killed in action. More than 500 Seabees died in accidents because construction was hazardous.
  4. George Randolph Scott (1988-1987) served in the United States Army’s 2nd Trench Mortar Battalion during World War I. He pursued a cinema career and played in many Westerns – “Heritage of the Desert” (1932), “Hello, Everybody!” (1933) and “Home on the Range” (1935), for example.
  5. Atabrine is an acridine derivative that was developed in the 1920’s and extensively used as an antimalarial agent by the U.S. military in the South Pacific during World War II.
  6. Translation by Louise Peloquin.

2 Responses to “Over there in the Pacific”

  1. Louise Peloquin says:

    The way you bring these endearing “characters” to life makes us readers part of your family.
    Keep your stories comin’ Charlie!

  2. Louise Peloquin says:

    The above comment was meant for “Uncle Arthur’s Crazy Friends” by Charlie Gargiulo, pasted on May 9th.
    My apologies!

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